Orange Chicken Tacos with Jalapeño Corn Salsa! Shredded chicken marinated in orange juice, a zesty jalapeño corn salsa, crunchy radishes, and sour cream all tucked in a flour tortilla. YUM!
iiiiiiitttt’s citrus season! Which means I’ve been trying to cook as much as possible with all those beautiful citrus fruits currently marked down at the grocery store. I made Orange Creamsicle Smoothies (they’re delicious). I made an upside-down orange cake (not delicious, hence why you haven’t seen it here on the blog.) And then my wonderful husband gave me the brilliant idea to marinate meat in freshly squeezed orange juice for tacos. Um, genius!
You can bundle almost anything in a tortilla and I promise you I will love it. But these orange-marinated chicken tacos are something else entirely. Sweet and tangy chicken. The most flavorful salsa with zesty cilantro and lime, sweet corn, creamy avocados, and spicy jalapeño. Crunchy radishes (also in season!). All wrapped up in Homemade Flour Tortillas with a dollop of sour cream. WHOA. Please and thank you.
How to make orange chicken tacos with jalapeño corn salsa
Perhaps the best part about these tacos is that they come together in just about thirty minutes. Let’s discuss the core components.
- Marinade: The acidity in orange juice tenderizes the chicken and gives it a vibrant citrus flavor. You’ll get the best results if you marinate the chicken for two hours before cooking (more time can actually toughen the meat because the marinade is so acidic.) But I’ll be honest–half the time I forget to start marinating meat in advance (and in the pre-pandemic days I often wasn’t home two hours before dinnertime.) So do the best you can here, whether that’s marinating for thirty minutes or doing it overnight. It’s going to be great. I do recommend juicing oranges yourself rather than using processed orange juice, which has a high sugar content and will alter the flavor.
- Type of chicken: I use chicken thighs in this recipe, which my husband and I both prefer because they’re so tender, flavorful, and difficult to overcook. But chicken breasts will also work if that’s what you have.
- Cooking method: If you can, I recommend grilling the chicken. We do not have a grill, as we live in the city and have approximately six feet by three feet of “backyard” space (AKA the concrete area behind our house where we keep our recycling bin.) To mimic the caramelization of grilled meat, I bake my chicken in the oven, shred it, and then briefly sear the shredded pieces in a frying pan to give them a little char on the outside.
- Lime and cilantro: Essential ingredients to ANY taco if you ask me.
- Corn: My husband and I both LOVE corn salsa. The sweetness perfectly contrasts the spicy jalapeño and the sour lime. Every summer, we get together with my in-laws to freeze a year’s worth of freshly-picked corn right off the cob (highly highly recommended). So that’s the corn I use, but store-bought frozen or canned corn will also work if that’s what’s available to you.
- Avocado: Seriously, what’s a taco without avocado? And the best part is that the acidity in the lime will prevent the avocado from turning brown.
- Jalapeño: This spicy little pepper is really critical to balancing the flavors in this recipe. Without it, the orange and the corn can make the tacos too sweet. We love spiciness around here, so I use the whole jalapeño including its seeds. But even if you don’t love spicy foods, please don’t forgo the jalapeño. Instead, try only using half the jalapeño (less spicy) or removing all the seeds (barely spicy)
- I love adding radishes to tacos for that satisfying crunch. Slice them thinly and sprinkle them with a pinch of salt just a few minutes before serving.
There you have it! I hope these tacos will brighten up your day like they brightened mine. Stay safe!
Orange Chicken Tacos with Jalapeño Corn Salsa
For the orange chicken marinade:
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs or chicken breasts
- ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice about 1½ oranges
- ¼ cup olive oil
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
For the jalapeño corn salsa:
- 2 cups corn frozen or canned
- 2 medium avocados chopped
- 1 jalapeño finely diced; use ½ jalapeño or remove seeds to reduce spiciness if desired
- ⅓ cup cilantro chopped
- juice of 2 limes
- 1 bunch radishes thinly sliced
- pinch of salt for the radishes
- 8 6-inch tortillas
- sour cream for serving
Marinate the chicken
- Whisk together all marinade ingredients. Pour marinade over chicken in a bowl or airtight container, ensuring that it's fully submerged.
- Marinate the chicken for 2 hours before cooking.
Cook the chicken
- Preheat the oven to 425° F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Bake the chicken on the baking sheet for 20 minutes or until an internal thermometer reads 165° F.
- While the chicken cooks, transfer the marinade to a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-low heat.
- Remove the chicken from the oven and shred it with two forks.
- Bring a frying pan to high heat on the stove. Once the pan is hot, add 3 tablespoons of the reserved marinade. Sear the shredded chicken in the frying pan for 2-3 minutes or until it develops brown, caramelized bits. (You could skip this step if you're pressed for time, but it really ramps up the taste.)
- Spoon a little extra marinade over the chicken before serving.
Make the jalapeño corn salsa
- While the chicken is cooking, finely dice the jalapeño, then chop the avocados and cilantro.
- In a medium bowl, stir together jalapeño, avocados, corn, cilantro, and lime juice.
- Finely slice the radishes and lay them in a single layer on a plate. A few minutes before serving, sprinkle them with a pinch of salt.
Assemble the tacos
- Assemble the tacos with tortillas and top with sour cream. Enjoy!
- Grilling the chicken rather than baking it would add tons of flavor! I just don’t have a grill, but if you do you should definitely go for it.
- Try using Homemade Flour Tortillas.